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Burnet County’s newest COVID-19 cases are due to people dropping their guard, County Judge James Oakley said at a special meeting of the Commissioner’s Court on July 6. 

Many people are becoming more relaxed about following Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes the disease. Those guidelines include wearing facial coverings in public, washing hands, and social distancing. Gov. Greg Abbott on July 2 issued a mandatory face covering order for counties with 20 or more COVID-19 cases.

“One thing that we are finding is that there are some individuals who have tested positive for the virus, or they’re waiting on test results, or they have a pretty good idea that they have it, and they still go out and circulate,” Oakley said. “That’s a problem.”

The problem is exacerbated by a slowdown in getting test results. Some COVID-19 tests that generally would have a 48-hour turnaround are instead taking as long as nine days to get back to the person. That could result in nine days of spread if that person does not self-isolate.

“The main thing is, if you’re not feeling well and you think you have it, stay away from people,” Oakley said. “It’s real simple.”

Saliva test kits, an alternate testing method, could be the answer, Oakley told commissioners, especially for first responders or essential workers who might have been exposed and need quick results to safely return to work.

A single kit costs $99 (shipping included). The test can only be performed by a physician. 

“The beauty of that test is that it’s not a nasal swab; it’s strictly a saliva test,” Oakley said. “Once the sample is rendered and shipped off on FedEx, once the sample is received in Lubbock, it’s an eight- to ten-hour turnaround time.”

Oakley expects more COVID-19 cases in the county will be reported in the coming days due to the backlog of testing results. 

“One of the most difficult things about this reporting process is successfully contacting some of the older cases to confirm recovery,” he said. “I know our recovered number is more than this report indicates. It is just very difficult to confirm.”

According to Oakley’s report, 55 of the 180 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Burnet County have recovered. Currently, the county reports a total of 122 active cases. Out of all 180 cases, seven people have been hospitalized and three have died. 

The county reports new cases on a weekly basis. The count last week was six new cases. Over the same time period this week, the county reported 35 new cases. 

For more on how COVID-19 is affecting the Highland Lakes, visit the DailyTrib.comcoronavirus resource webpage.